Top critical review
61 people found this helpful
Not bad but could be better
on 22 March 2012
The worst thing (by far) is the mini-USB connector. The tiny cover for it is horrible and feels as if it will break off at any moment. The cover is only attached to the camera by a tiny piece of wire, but because the cover is so small, it's hard to get it out of the way so that the mini-USB plug will go in. I have spent more time trying to get comfortable with this aspect than anything else.
The size of the camera is ok, certainly comparable to other cameras on the market (such as the Ixus), but I think that the camera is too small. I know that it's a digital compact and they are meant to be small, the problem is that when cameras are small then buttons are small and connectors are small (bringing me back to the mini-USB connector!)
As for the camera itself, the pictures that it takes are fine. There's a fully automatic setting which seems to work well. I've noticed that some shots can seem inferior to the Canon Ixus, however, the Ixus has a reputation of overdoing the exposure and messing with the colors a bit too much. I haven't seen such problems with the Panasonic.
One thing that's missing from the Panasonic is the ability to change from fine to standard mode. You can do that with the Ixus, you can't do it with the Panasonic. In addition, the JPEG compression used in the Panasonic isn't very good at all.
At maximum resolution (16m 4608 x 3456), an average picture is just over 6mb in size mainly because the JPEG compression isn't very good. To prove this point, simply opening a picture in Paint and then saving it straight away (without performing any actions) results in a visualy identical file but only half the file size (abour 3.2mb).
On the plus side, the camera is pretty fast (possibly partly because the JPEG files aren't compressed very much).
This camera features MP4 recording (at 25fps) and that would normally be a blessing. However, the file sizes of the videos are still too large for most people, a 45 second video took up 56mb of space. While this is better than Motion JPEG (which used about 116mb for the same clip), it's still quite high because there's no ability to change the bitrate that the movie is recorded in. Because of that, I found that I still resorted to using a video converter and therefore the choice on the camera of using Motion JPEG or MP4 was pointless.
One big feature of this camera is the ability to charge it without having to remove the battery. What you get in the box is an electrical plug and a USB cable. If you want to charge the camera, you simply plug one end of the USB cable into the electrical plug and the other end into the camera. The battery will then start charging (the camera must be switched off though). This can be a good or bad thing.
If you only have one battery then it's awesome because you never have to remove it. But if you have more than one, the chances are that you will swap to another battery while one is recharging and you cannot do that with this camera (since a separate charger isn't included). So if you have more than one battery, you would probably need to buy a separate charger or you will have a lot of waiting to do.
One big benefit though is that you can charge the camera simply by plugging the USB cable into a compatible USB socket on your computer (must be a socket that supports charging). This could be very useful though sadly the camera needs to be switched off before it will actually start charging. In the end, I just prefer to use a separate charger and swap the battery over when it's dead.
There's no AV cable included with this camera (as there is on some others) but that's only a few pounds from Panasonic. This camera has a slider to switch between shooting and playback mode rather than a button and this is better because it's more obvious which mode you are in. However, the on/off switch is also a slider, that's not such a good idea.
The dedicated movie recording button is much better than a lot of Panasonic cameras.
All in all, this camera isn't bad. But I prefer the FS35 because it's easier to handle (being a bit more rugged), comes with a separate battery charger (and an AV cable) and takes similar looking pictures. And best of all, I never need to see that awful mini-USB connector socket ever again!